Saturday, September 26, 2009

Aw, he's so cute!!

That's what they all say.

But not a single serious inquiry about adoption to date. :(

We spent two hours at a pet fair today; Dubby wore a big "Adopt Me" vest that draped over his back and made him look like a tiny horse.

He was in fine form, performed some tricks, and generally ran and tumbled like a cute little puppy. He got nice and muddy, chewed some other dogs' faces, got trampled by a few big dogs (and loved it), and on the 3K benefit walk he swerved and veered and entangled everyone's legs with his leash without a care in the world, just happy with his newfound freedom (this was only his second major excursion on a leash, since he just finished his vaccinations yesterday).

By the end of the event, Dubby was so tired that he actually conked out in the grass while I was doing a short interview for our pit bull Meetup group. He looked so precious, snoozing there in the sun on top of my muddy blue canvas bag while people strolled past.

Then he came home and crashed on our bed.

We love him. Whoever adopts him will love him. It's impossible not to love him. Everyone here is quite attached to him, especially Byrd, who literally goes into Dubby Withdrawal if Dubby is not around.

This is one more reason why he needs to go home with someone quickly. It will make the foster bond a little easier to break. The longer he stays, the stronger the bond.

Some people wonder why we don't keep Dubby, if we love him so much. The answer is simple: Dozer won't let us. Dozer tolerates puppies, but he won't put up with another adult male dog on his turf. And Dubby will be an adult male dog some day.

Besides, we love every dog that we foster. If we kept them all, we'd have way too many dogs and not enough time to spend with each of them. Two dogs is my limit, and I'm sticking to it for the benefit of all.

But I know someone out there has space for a dog. Someone's looking. Here's hoping they'll fall head over heels for Dubby some day soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Freelance Copyediting Process

Hi there! Pit bull owner here. Unfortunately, I'm not a drug dealer, gang member, or antisocial thug... unfortunately for you, anyway, because otherwise this description of my job might be a little more interesting!

No, the cold, hard truth is that I heart love grammar.

My experience is with textbooks, specifically middle school and high school literature textbooks. But I've also been on a copyediting team for a technology RFP (a work proposal for the state), and I've done a bit of history, social studies, and psychology textbook copyediting as well.

Sometimes I work on hard copy (paper) and sometimes I work on PDFs or Word documents. It just depends on the job.

This stack of paper below is a grade 9 test handbook; it is what teachers use to give tests at the end of each unit in the textbook. It also has an answer key and a skills chart (that the teacher can review to see what state skills the students are learning).

I usually work on my dining table, or on the living room couch. Byrd built me a huge desk where I can spread the papers out, but then he took over half of it!

Here are the supplies I use to copyedit: a mechanical pencil (or a colored pen), an eraser, a ton of small sticky notes, some "sticky finger" wax, and page flags. The page flags are cut from the small sticky notes.

Here's the copyediting in high gear. I've split up the pages so I can check cross references--that is, references to other pages in the book. I also have to check the answer key and the skills chart for each question.

I'm checking for grammatical errors, typos, incorrect answers, style inconsistencies, and pretty much anything that doesn't work or make sense. I mark and correct most of the little issues directly on the page. I put queries--questions for the editors, usually about issues I can't resolve because they are too big for a quick fix--on sticky notes on the page.

Any page with any sort of mark or query must have a page flag, so the editor knows the page has been "touched."

This particular document was supposed to be "mostly clean"--that is, it wasn't supposed to have a whole lot of problems. But you can see from the page flags that "clean" is a subjective term!
Here are some other important supplies: a big bag of pecans and a tray of cinnamon rolls. Other staples include Coke, Oreos, chips or popcorn, apples, cheese and crackers, and anything else I can stuff in my mouth with one hand while writing and turning pages with the other.
Of course, it's important to have a laptop or computer on hand. Not only do I use an online dictionary/thesaurus, the online Chicago Manual of Style, and research sources for fact checking, I also listen to J-pop (Japanese pop music) on Web radio while I work.

Why J-pop, you ask? Aside from the fact that I like it ("NERD!"), it's also very difficult for me to sing along. When you're trying to read and edit a document in English, the last thing you want to do is listen to music in English. Pretty soon, you're so busy rocking out to the lyrics that you've lost concentration (and probably missed a bunch of grammatical errors). With J-pop, I get a nice tune that keeps me awake without confounding my language skills.

And yes, I've tried classical music, which has no lyrics at all. It puts me to sleep!

So, there you have it. After I'm done with the entire document, I turn it all in and wait for the next job.

If you're thinking this is sort of an unusual occupation for a pit bull owner, let me break it to you gently. You should know that most of us actually do have normal, boring jobs as teachers, writers, technology experts, doctors, and so on.

Sorry to disappoint.

Here comes the rain!

A sight we haven't seen here in Austin for an eternity...

The rain showed up a few days ago. Not a cute little sprinkle, oh no. No, you know what they say... everything's bigger in Texas. Our weather is always ridiculously dramatic.

We went from roasting in one of the worst droughts, at some of the hottest temperatures I can remember, to downright flooded in a matter of hours.

Yesterday and today I had the misfortune to be on the highway during the afternoon downpours. Of course, I was NOT taking pictures with my cell phone then--I was trying to see the road! The rain came down so hard, all I could see was gray, and the occasional red light of someone braking ahead of me.

But I did take some shots while Byrd was driving, a few days before. This drive was 13 minutes long. We started on dry road... then about three minutes into it--here's what started:

Five minutes later Byrd had the wipers going full speed and we still couldn't see.

And three minutes up the road, it was dry as a bone again.

That's Texas weather for ya!

Most of our area got a mega-downpour today, not the spotty drenchings of the past few days. We needed the rain, but the downside is that the dirt that was our backyard (our grass being dead and all) is now MUD.

So we're all trapped inside the house--still! Over the summer, the heat kept us in. Now, we're trying to avoid the rain and the mud.

I think Star is going to go bonkers. I haven't taken her on a walk in weeks; agility class keeps getting canceled due to weather; and no trips to the pet store, as I try to save some money. She has developed this weird habit of chasing shadows.

Here's what I mean. I swear to you--THERE WAS NOTHING THERE.

She does this every night, too. It's a little creepy to see her standing there staring at the wall, or stomping on some invisible insect, or wedging herself into a corner to poke at the carpet. Although I will admit she found--and smashed--a little house gecko this way once. :(

Take me on a walk... pleeeease... I'm SO BORED!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Adoption Daze

Update 9/11/09: I found out from the adoption coordinator that what happened was that Dubby got beat up by another puppy. His bare skin is too sensitive to sharp puppy teeth! So the coordinators have issued special instructions to the on-site counselors--and I reiterate these instrux every morning at dropoff--that Dubby cannot play with rough puppies. And he MUST have sunscreen reapplied every day!

Dubby came home from the adoption site today with a bunch of scrapes on his face and a gash on his leg. My sister picked him up like this, but failed to get the scoop.

He's also sunburned. I drop him off every morning covered in sunscreen, and every day he comes back a little more red. I can tell the staff isn't applying sunscreen, even though I make that request every morning. I even left a tube of sunscreen there earlier in the week, to make it easy for them.

I feel so bad for Dubby. He shrieks something awful when I drop him off every morning. And he passes out from exhaustion every day on the ride home. And now this.

He's not having a fun time or a good experience, sitting there in his pen. I wish someone would adopt him already!

I'm not having much fun either; the adoption site is a 40 min drive away. I have to drive there twice a day--once to drop off (11 am), once to pick up (7 pm). I'm exhausted from all the driving. I don't know how people deal with such a commute on a regular basis; I've been known to turn down temp jobs if they take longer than 20 minutes for me to get to.

Blogging is taking a back seat this week as I struggle with two freelance jobs, an assortment of extracurricular commitments, the foster puppy, and of course, daily life. I shouldn't even be writing this post right now!